At the risk of offending you with my opening salvo; podcasting is too easy.
Let me put that another way. It's too easy to gloss over the difficult parts of podcasting that, when done right, help make a show truly outstanding and remarkable.
Getting The Easy Things Out Of The Way
Think about the process you go through when making an episode of your podcast. Or, if you’re part of a team that makes podcasts, think through the processes you go through to fulfill your role.
Start from the beginning. No, the beginning isn’t when you hit the RECORD button. At least I hope it’s not. Go back before that to your episode planning process or the brainstorming you’re doing around topics and angles you may take. That’s where an episode truly begins.
From there, take a mental journey through all of the steps you follow from that starting moment, walking through all of them until the episode is finished. No, you aren’t finished when you hit PUBLISH at your podcast hosting company. You still have—or at least I hope you still have—items to handle post-publishing. Updating your website, doing some marketing and promotion… Think all the way through to the end.
As you go through those steps in your head, you’ll recognize many (most, hopefully) as so easy to you that they’ve become second nature. The longer you’ve been at the podcasting game, the easier those tasks become as you become more proficient at performing them with a high degree of competency.
But some—at least one, I reckon—will give you pause. Because some of them are less easy than others and may be downright difficult for you.
Digging Into The Difficult Parts
Being a podcaster requires a variety of skills. It’s the rare superhuman (whom I’ve never met) who’s skilled in all aspects required to make a great podcast. Everyone struggles to complete at least one aspect of the podcasting process. Probably a lot more than one.
Dunning–Kruger affected people aside, you likely have the self-awareness necessary to identify areas where your skills are lacking. Sure, you have enough skill to complete the task, but you’ve never bothered to plumb deeper depths of that skill, even though you have a nagging suspicion that there’s more to learn.
Time is a big factor for any podcaster, and we all have to do what we have to do to get our episodes out in a timely fashion. Are there tasks you’d like to go deeper with, if only you had more time? You’re doing a “good enough” job right now, but with a few more [insert units of time here] of discretionary time, you’d make that one aspect of your podcast even better. But with the realities of time, you have to take shortcuts. It happens. Don’t beat yourself up over it.
Or maybe you heard someone say “you should do this one thing when you podcast” and you’re doing that thing because... well, they said so. But you really don’t get the need, so you’re just going through the motions because a self-purported expert said you should. It may not be arduous, but it’s puzzling. Puzzling things count as difficult in this exercise.
Perhaps there’s a speedbump in your process that you absolutely loathe. You do it, begrudgingly, but you hate it. You plow through it because you know it’s important, but you despise every moment you spend on that damnable-but-critical task. Yes, that counts!
30-Day De-Difficulting Detox
I want you to choose one of those difficult things. Just one. You can come back and work through others later. But for now, pick one difficult thing that is part of your current podcasting process and write it down on a sticky note.
Apply that sticky note to your monitor, your microphone, your audio interface… Wherever it is that that difficulty comes up, put it directly in your path so you can’t ignore it anymore. It should annoy the hell out of you that it’s there. So much, in fact, that you’re going to start a timer, giving yourself 30 days to make that difficult task less difficult for you.
Yes, a month. No, you cannot fix it in a day. If you can, it probably wasn’t all that difficult and you should feel bad for not fixing it a long time ago. Now repeat the exercise and find something that’s really hard for you. </chastising>
A month is probably enough time to address this single difficult concern. I can’t promise it will ever become easy for you. But I am confident that a full 30-days of focused attention and committed effort will at least make you significantly more competent in that aspect of podcasting.
10 - 1 ≠ 9
Because we’re humans, we tend to ignore difficult things in our lives in favor of the good bits. Difficult things are a part of life, so we try to tip the scales in the favor of happiness by adding lots of easier or more rewarding elements to our lives. That’s a great approach to life, but there’s a mathematical error that comes out when we’re producing content we want the public to consume.
Doing ten easy things well and one difficult thing poorly does not make our podcast a nine.
All things do not have the same value. That one difficult thing we’re doing poorly probably has an outsized impact on the listener experience. While your biggest fans will always forgive you for some muddled-through steps, not everyone is in that camp. And if you want your show to grow, you should always be thinking about those who have yet to listen. If there’s a difficult step your doing poorly, that might be getting in their way.
Podcaster, Heal Thyself!
When I went through the process on my own—yes, I eat my own dogfood—I realized my difficult thing is EQ and cleanup of my own vocal tracks of this very show. Even though I’m a very picky person when it comes to audio quality, I’ve not been picky enough and have been taking the easy road. Yes, I’m doing EQ and track cleanup already, but not enough. And I’m not doing enough because I haven’t taken the time to master the tools and techniques to do an outstanding job.
So I’m fixing that. Before 30 days are up, I’ll have invested in new software and training to up my game when it comes to vocal track cleanup, focusing on my own tracks.
This won’t be easy for me. I have a very tight window for audio editing, which is a very small part of the daily process I go through to get episodes of Podcast Pontifications published every single day. That’s why I’ve been avoiding it. But no more. I’ll have to figure it out and adjust accordingly. No, I don’t know what that means right now. But I have 30 days to figure it out!
Get Some Honest Feedback From Your Podcasting Peers
For a lot of reasons, figuring out what’s difficult about your episode-creation process can be hard to do from the inside looking out. You may be too close to the process. Or you may be overwhelmed by a lot! So turn to your podcasting peers—peers who actually listen to your show and know your process. Ask them what about your episodes stands out to them as less-than-perfect. And ask them to be honest. They probably know what that one thing is and are just waiting for you to ask.
If you love this idea, please go to BuyMeACoffee.com/evoterra and slide a virtual coffee my way.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.
Podcast Pontifications is written and narrated by Evo Terra. He’s on a mission to make podcasting better. Allie Press proofed the copy, corrected the transcript, and edited the video. Podcast Pontifications is a production of Simpler Media.